Favourites from the Royal Pavilion Gardens — Cornus mas, Cornelian Cherry

Cornus mas, Cornelian Cherry
Cornus mas, Cornelian Cherry

In the bed along the south side of the Royal Pavilion Gardens where all seems gloomy and grey, look up and you will see a glorious yellow haze above your head. Get closer and pull a branch down and you will see the exquisite tiny flowers of Cornus mas, the Cornelian Cherry.

Bright yellow, very welcome and cheering in these early days of spring, the flowers, though teensy, are easy to see because they are not hidden by the leaves which are still dormant. The flowers will eventually mature into red fruits – hence the English name. These do tend to hide in the foliage, and are not very conspicuous,

Cornus mas, Cornelian Cherry
Cornus mas, Cornelian Cherry

but can be quickly eaten by birds and squirrels. I have read that they are much prized in parts of Russia, and have found a preserve made of the cherries on the internet; maybe that’s a job for the gardeners! Cornus mas is native to parts of central and southern Europe as well as western Asia, and has been grown for several centuries in this country.

Cornus mas, Cornelian Cherry
Cornus mas, Cornelian Cherry

The name Cornus shows that it is a member of the Dogwood family, and the mas means male, referring, apparently, to its robust nature. But at this time of year it is its airy lightness that we relish, those hundreds of tiny yellow inflorescences that together make the tree glorious, and help us realise that spring is truly on its way.

Rose, Volunteer Gardener, Royal Pavilion Gardens

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